Shadow In The Cloud (2020) TIFF Review: (Written By Hussain Alokaily)
Shadow in the Cloud is the new movie by Roseanne Liang and it stars Chloë Grace Moretz, Nick Robinson, Callan Mulvey, and Talyor John Smith. It revolves around a female WWII pilot traveling with top-secret documents on a B-17 Flying Fortress encounters an evil presence on board the flight.
Like many at first, I dismissed this movie when looking over the films playing at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival because of the name Max Landis. Put aside the allegations against him, my opinion of him as a screenwriter was never high because I always found his screenplays bad or in some cases dreadful (Chronicle is the only exception). Thankfully, people corrected me as I found out that Landis only had story credit and that Liang and Moretz worked incredibly hard to separate it from the initial draft Landis wrote. After seeing the film, I applaud Liang and Moretz even more because they ended up making one hell of a film that is really damn fun!
One thing I bring up is the film's pacing which I think is as perfect as you’d want a film like this to be. It literally doesn’t waste any time and gets the entire plot going in the first 5 minutes and from there it’s non stop action and thrilling moments. It makes the 83-minute runtime fly by and keeps the audience engaged from that entire runtime. What further enhances the film is the work Roseanne Liang does as a writer and director here. Liang really made this as contained of a thriller as you possibly can as 70-80% of the film is with Moretz only as she is contained in the film. It doesn’t just get into the mindset of the character and allows the audience to be in her shoes, it also really adds more to the intensity of the film. Liang also plays with the idea of fear of the unknown as you only hear the other characters of the film mostly through voice-overs which further enhances the claustrophobia felt. The writing is also pretty good as it allows you to buy into the character’s journey and it feels really developed. While it does have the high concepts that Max Landis is known for, it also executes that concept better than if it was in Landis’s control.
Another reason why the film works as well as it does is the performance Chloë Grace Moretz gives as she gives such great, committed performance. With 70-80% of the film being on Moretz only, she carries the entire film and really sells the emotional journey she brings here. This once again shows that Moretz is not just an excellent actress but also shows how good she is in these smaller-scale films. Finally, the cinematography in the film is really good as it has a good sense of how it uses colors, lighting, and composition to once again sell the claustrophobic feel of the film.
The only real issue the film has is its very mixed visual effects. Some of the effects here especially when the film is at night time is really good and blends in well with the live-action elements. However, the green screen effects and composition of those effects are extremely poor and do not blend with the live-action elements.
Despite that, Shadow in the Cloud is a really fun, contained thriller that has good direction and a great leading performance from Chloë Grace Moretz. It’s not the best film I saw at this year’s TIFF but is sure a film I can recommend watching when it comes out.
Shadow In The Cloud gets a 4/5